FOI release

Teaching time lost due to severe weather conditions

School closures and teaching time lost due to severe weather conditions.



  • Date requested: 22 January 2013
  • Date responded: 12 February 2013


We understand, that, in accordance with the law, teaching days lost to school closures due to snow, are required to be made up.

There appears to be a very high level of ignorance of this requirement and although, the response advised that local authorities are required to ensure schools make this time up, few, if any, ever do.

We would like a copy of any correspondence sent from the Department of Education to local authorities reminding them of this duty and to know, what, if anything, the department is able to do about schools which flout this law and which appears to be anything but pupil centric and furthermore, the impact on the economy runs into billions of pounds.


As explained by the Secretary of State in his response of 21 March 2012 to Francis Maude on this matter, all maintained schools are required by law to open for the purpose of educating their pupils for 190 days (or 380 sessions) in a year. If a school is unable to meet for a planned session (for example because of bad weather) then the school may still treat that missed session as having gone ahead where it is not reasonably practicable for the school to make up the time. There is no requirement on schools to make up lost sessions in these circumstances.

You will understand that as there is no legal duty on schools to make up lost days due to severe weather conditions the question of reminding local authorities and/or maintained schools about it does not come up. We therefore do not hold the information you are requesting. However, you may be interested to know that on 29 January 2013 the department sent an email message to local authorities and, published advice to schools about remaining open during adverse weather conditions on the departmental website.

Published 16 September 2013